US envoy to Korea undergoes surgery after knife attack

US envoy to Korea undergoes surgery after knife attack
US Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert leaves after he was slashed in the face by an unidentified assailant at a public forum in central Seoul March 5, 2015

SEOUL - US Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was recovering from surgery Thursday following a knife attack that slashed open his cheek and damaged nerves in his right hand, doctors said.

Lippert, whose condition was described as stable, was treated for two-and-a-half hours by a plastic surgeon and an orthopaedic surgeon and will remain in hospital under observation for the next three to four days.

"The surgery was very successful and the patient is in a stable condition and resting in his hospital room," Chung Nam-Sik, head of the Yonsei University Health System, told a press briefing.

Lippert was attacked Thursday morning during a breakfast function by a knife-wielding political activist who struck at his face, lower arm and right hand.

One of the surgeons, Yoo Dae-Hyun, said if the deep cut on his right cheekbone had been a few centimetres lower it might have cut his carotid artery "which would have been life-threatening."

The cut on the cheek was 11cm long and 3.0cm deep, but there was no nerve damage.

There was, however, some minor damage to sensory nerves in his hand which was successfully treated during the surgery, the doctors said.

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